Introducing the Greatest All Time “Fat” Cricket Team

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Phillip Hill of dishes up his fattest XI of all time.

The idea for this side came out of a conversation on the One Hand One Bounce Weekly Cricket Podcast. Dave Siddall, the presenter of the show, spoke about Samit Patel, an English cricketer who had not been considered for selection in the England one day squad because he could not pass certain indicators of physical fitness like beep tests, whatever they are. It was most embarrassing when he threw to me, for a comment, a few minutes later as I had been thinking of all the great cricketers that would not have seen the light of day at the Lords cricket ground had such silly criterion been applied. I had no idea what the show had been covering since he dropped this bombshell.

I remember reading an article, a few years ago, by a female cricket fan who talked about the difference between the soccer players and the cricket players. The soccer players all had the builds of greyhounds and super model girlfriends but the cricketers seemed more real, average, normal sort of blokes. She fancied her chances with a cricketer.

With my greatest all time “fat cricket side” you will have no chance of beating them. It is a truly imposing side, but your greatest problem will be getting (Gatting?) anything to eat.

Most of the time when selecting a team you start by selecting the opening batsman and work through the batting order, top to bottom; number one to eleven. With this side a different approach is required. The most important selection is the twelfth man. We need a bloke who can be trusted to sit in the pavilion and not eat all the pies. I hope you realize that the feeding of these blokes is going to take a mammoth effort requiring a logistic operation rivaling the Desert Storm or the D Day landings of the Second World War. Indeed the awarding of the catering rights should put the annual player auction of the IPL in the shade.

Who do I have in mind? Well I am looking for certain characteristics in my twelfth man. This is the only spot in this team where a skinny bloke will be selected. I need a vegetarian, tee totaling, big bloke and there is someone who fits the bill perfectly: Srinath the skinniest fast bowler of all time. Doesn’t eat meat (the pies are safe). A non drinker (the VB cans are safe) and he is big enough to scare away food raiders.

The umpires will have a hard time with this team. No one will walk, let alone run and this also means we will have to name two players to be runners for the team. Sprained hamstrings, calf tears and general exhaustion will cause the use of runners to be commonplace. I have the ideal two: either Jessie Ryder or Darren, “Boof”, Lehmann is ideally “suited” for this role. The two umpires name themselves. Sheppard and Darryl Hair will not look out of place. Before selecting the players we need to appoint a media manager. Only one candidate: John Arlott and his magnificent wine cellar.

Entertainment at the lunch break: Meat Loaf and the Ten- Ton- Tenors.

At number one we have the greatest cricketer of all time. Doctor W. G. Grace MD. He will have to undergo a refresher course in the use of a defibrillator machine, as heart attacks are quite likely with these blokes. Multi skilling or all round ability is Grace’s second name. He stood far above all batsman of his era and, only for Bradman, he would be regarded as the greatest batsman ever. He would set record after record for runs scored in a season. If he had never batted, he would be remembered as one of the great bowlers. In major matches he usually opened the batting and the bowling, sometimes dominating the match with both bat and ball. At one stage of his career he went seven first class games in a row taking at least ten wickets in each. Now remember, he was primarily a batsman.  Even more importantly, he developed what we now call technique. He was the first player to go forward and back. He was the first player to score on both sides of the wicket. He captured the imagination of the public and made cricket England’s national game. Without Grace I may not be writing on cricket at all.

At number two we have a tragic figure, Colin Milburn, whose cricket career was cruelly cut short by a car accident. He was thrown into the windscreen of the car he was driving and one eye was destroyed and the other slightly damaged. No seat belts. He hit the ball with great power and was a larger than life figure off it. He died at forty eight of a heart attack. He played only nine test matches but hit eleven sixes. Imagine what he may have done when he felt assured of his place in the England team and could really go after the bowling.

This team will get into trouble. They will beat the pants off everyone and eat all the food. We need a diplomat at number three who can calm troubled waters (and waiters) and apologize that the tea is already been eaten. This player is famous as the only player who has forced their captain to send out food to them while they were batting. Michael Colin Cowdrey was once sent two bananas by his captain Len Hutton.  Cowdrey had just played a few rash shots and Hutton thought Cowdrey might be getting hungry..

Two blokes from the subcontinent at four and five:  Inzamam-ul-Haq and Arjuna Ranatunga. Inzamam had a tendency to run out his batting partners that won’t happen here because no one will run at all. I only hope he and Darryl Hair won’t fall out over the muffins and cakes. Best to put them at opposite ends of the table. Remember how Arjuna would fake injury to get a runner out to run for him in match after match. Won’t happen in this side as few singles will be run and the runners are all slower than he is. Problem solved!!!!!!

The big ship, Warwick Armstrong at number six. He won’t look so impressive in this lot but he “made his bat look like a tea spoon and the bowling look like weak tea”. He is our second true all-rounder. A fine leg spinner and a punishing batsman

The all-rounder is Alfred Mynn, probably the greatest cricketer before Grace. A huge man, a frighteningly fast bowler and magnificent batsman who was a Botham- like character or Botham might be regarded as a Mynn- like character. People would come for miles to see him play and he featured in some of the most famous single wicket matches of all time.

The wicket-keeper is not Rodney Marsh. Underneath all that fat he had plenty of muscle. Barry Jarman was simply fat. He looked nothing like that silky skilled Crows footballer of the same name. He was a slob, but a wonderful keeper, with hands to die for.

The bowlers are largely from Victoria (hurray) Warnie and Merv Hughes. I have a Merv story. The Victorian coach once asked a dietitian to come down to lecture to the team, much to Merv’s amusement. She eventually asked Merv “what will you get to eat tonight?” Merv said he would drop into the Werribee pizza shop and pick up a “super supreme with the lot”. The young woman then talked about how pizza was quite a good choice but unfortunately she asked Merv how many pieces he would eat. Merv said that depended on how many pieces they cut the pizza into. She should have stopped while she was ahead.

Finally the last player is Dwayne “Sluggo” Leverock. Who will ever forget his heroics at the last world cup but he is a sad figure. Not personally sad but he is a sad reminder of what sport has become. The great cricket historian Bowen thought in the late sixties that cricket would return to its amateur past, that the game would not be able to continue to support the English county sides let alone the plethora of international series we now have spawned. I wonder if he would be pleased by the big business that cricket has become.

This naming of this side was provoked by Dave pointing out the non- selection of an English player for the World Cup because he had been in a good paddock, gained some weight and had failed a beep test or two. Do we really want our cricketers to all look like Kevin Peterson or Shane Watson?  I think it is somewhat depressing that “Sluggo” is the only member of the team from this century. In one hundred years they may be routinely ignoring players who cannot score 16 on a beep test and have a body fat ratio of “xyz”.


Who would YOU have in your “Fattest” XI?

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  1. Ben Roberts says

    Couple more Victorians – Jason Arnberger and David Saker carried spare tyres onto the field.

    Ridley Jacobs of the WI was a solid chap.

    Eddie Hemmings and I reckon Ian Botham were pretty stiff to miss out given the infamous pig incident at the Gabba.

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